This past weekend I was out-and-abouting, getting to know the city of Berlin, when I happened to step out of the U5 Weberwiese stop and see advertised: "Computer Game Museum" all the way up the stairs that led out of the station. Curious, I went ahead and took care of the business I had in the neighborhood and backtracked to the museum on my way back to the station. The exterior is pretty quiet, and had I not had the various huge advertisements guiding me, I'm not sure I would have noticed where I was headed until I was right in front of the place.
After paying an €8 entrance fee and stashing my bag in a locker, I walked in and just tried to get a general feel for what all was on display.
While the statues on the stairway right behind the attendants' desk had something I would expect in a Gamestop (life-sized figures of Lara Croft and Solid Snake), stepping into the display itself was a much more focused affair. Green boxes on my right housed every major console until the last generation, in a backward history while walking straight ahead. There were also small squares in a receptacle in front of the consoles, outlining each of the consoles and giving a small biography of the system.
Further along there was an entire wall with the same green boxes, mixed with white ones this time, housing influential games through videogame history, being broken down into categories such as cultural value and technical innovations. As is common throughout the museum, you control the accompanying video (where you choose which game you wish highlighted a bit more) by use of a joystick, which allows you to select the desired video, pause, and play with simple presses of the buttons and manipulation of the control stick.
Videos are all about, covering aspects from the medical question of videogames to the peripherals to political statements and much, much more. It was all a bit too much to gather in one day, but I have plans to attend again. The information covered did not go into streams of detail, but had just enough information that I rarely found myself just walking away, disinterested in one aspect or another.
There are even some interactive sections, where you can try out various games, play around with some indie games, test out a 3D television with glasses, and even test out a couple of iPads.
Which is to say, I was not sure walking in what I would find, or even what I expected to find, but rather than just putting on display games for me to play, the focus was on telling me about the games themselves, the people behind them, and giving me a different way of looking at them. Which, in terms of how a museum presents itself, makes sense for people who may be completely new to games. It allowed me to take a step back (even moreso than I usually do) and just reconsider.
So, if you ever find yourself in Berlin and have a few hours to while away, I may suggest stopping by the city's Computerspielemuseum.